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301. galaxy drops

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Helena meets her at the end of things, because she was always going to. In the belly of Thanos’ ship: Sarah’s sister, sitting there, waiting for her. She tugs her chain back and forth between her hands. The metal on her face glitters; the metal of her arm glitters. There are so many places where Sarah has ripped her apart.

Sarah is holding a sword and it feels useless. Her hand sweats. Outside the ship: explosions, the sound of time running out.

“Sister,” Helena says. “So you joined with them. After all.”

“Thanos is crazy,” Sarah says. “He’s batshit. He wants to end – everything, Helena. You really want this to end? No more sugar spheres from—”

The chain is whipping through the air and Sarah ducks under it, rolls, keeps evading. The chain is everywhere. The chain is humming with electricity. She can’t keep her eyes off Helena’s knuckles, one hand white and the other hand just metal.

(“Please,” Helena had said, when Sarah had left her behind. All tangled up. Dying. “Please, sister,” she’d said. “I need your help. Don’t leave me here.”

Weak, Sarah had thought. You weren’t allowed to say please when you were an orphan in Thanos’ care. They’d both swallowed that lesson better than any of the others – that’s why they were a team, that’s why they were sisters. Family. Because they were a pair of sharp knives in the dark.

So she’d left Helena a knife to cut herself out. Helena sawed through her own arm, and now that arm is gone, and if Sarah had freed her maybe they wouldn’t be here.)

“Oh, come on,” Sarah yells as she goes. “You gonna pretend I don’t know you? Like we didn’t train together? Like I didn’t break your bloody fingers a million times—”

“Stop,” Helena says. Oh, she’s standing now. The chain is singing, stinging, moving so fast it seems to have a life of its own. The tail of it flicks against Sarah’s jacket, burns a hole. She liked this jacket.

“Helena,” Sarah says – well. Pleads. Begs, maybe. “I had to leave you behind once, I don’t want to do it again. There’s still a chance. You can help stop this.”

“You left me behind alone,” Helena snarls, and with a sizzle of light the chain is back in her hands. She loops it around her knuckles, tugs it back and forth. Anxious gesture. She used to do it when – but that doesn’t matter. “Father was mad at me. Father blamed me, because he always liked you best. But then you ran away. And he still didn’t look at me!

She drops the chain and launches herself at Sarah, like she knows Sarah won’t raise her sword to her. Sarah doesn’t. Sarah drops the sword with a clatter on the ground and blocks her sister’s punches, kicks legs, does not break bones. It’s like training. They mirror each other perfectly; they always have, they were supposed to keep doing it forever.

But Sarah ran away. Sarah got guilty, and Sarah fled to the edges of the galaxy, and didn’t bring Helena with her.

“Stop,” Sarah says, abruptly shortening a punch that would have caved in Helena’s windpipe. Helena laughs in a harsh growl of a sound, mirrors the punch back at Sarah. She does not shorten it. Sarah has to duck and keep talking, breathless and desperate: “Come with us. We always said that someday we were gonna fly from one end of this galaxy to the next, see everything, eat everything, go everywhere – we can do that, Helena, but we can’t if you—”

“No,” Helena says, and Sarah’s wrist goes crack.

“No,” Helena says, and Sarah’s leg goes crack.

“We are going to be even,” Helena says, and Sarah falls to the ground.

“You hurt me,” Helena says, “and now I hurt you.” She lifts her boot and kicks Sarah’s face; her jaw breaks. They both stop for a moment and listen to the sound of Sarah’s enhancements desperately trying to snap her face back into shape.

“I want you to know how it feels,” Helena says. “And then I want you to die, so you never feel anything else.”

Click goes Sarah’s jaw. “What happened to you,” she whispers, and Helena caves her face in again with the heel of her boot.

“You know,” Helena says. “It happened to you too. And then you turned your back on it and pretended that it didn’t. And I can’t.” She punctuates that last word by kicking in Sarah’s ribs again. Then she stops. Wavers.

(Two girls in the middle of a training room. They can’t be any older than twelve, and they are holding knives, and they do not look terrified. They are terrified, but: they don’t look it.

“I can’t hurt you,” says one of them.

“Yeah you can,” says the other one. “He’s gonna be mad if you don’t.”

“I can’t.”

Sarah takes a step closer. She grabs Helena’s knife and puts it against her throat. “Come on,” she says. “I’ll heal.”

Helena shakes her head, eyes wide and frantic. Sarah clenches her hand so tight around Helena’s wrist that the bones creak. “Do it,” she says, and her voice is angry and disappointed and sour. “Don’t be weak.”

Helena closes her eyes tight, and—)

Sarah’s bones click back into place, her muscles knit together. She stays lying on the floor. The metal is cool against her face; if she closes her eyes, and ignores all the explosions happening outside this room, it could be just another day. Helena beat her again, but that happens sometimes. She’ll do better.

“I can’t kill you,” Helena says, and Sarah looks up. Helena’s back is turned. Sarah isn’t stupid enough to think that means she’s given up; she manages to drag her way to standing anyways. She wavers, but she’s standing.

“We’re sisters,” Sarah says.

“Now,” Helena says, exhausted, “this means something to you.” She turns around. Her face is, in its own small horror, completely unreadable. Sarah takes a step closer, doesn’t look away from her sister’s eyes. She holds out her hand.

“Helena,” she says, three syllables, a lifetime worth of family. Those three syllables are all she has – the rest of her words push against each other so hard she can’t get them out. Imagine what we could be together and I can’t tell any of these people what I’ve lost without you here and you know I need someone to watch my back and it was always supposed to be us. Helena. It all comes through.

Helena closes her eyes tight. Then she opens them, steps forward, and takes Sarah’s hand.